If you had a full day to spend doing what you enjoy, how would you spend it? How about running 50 miles or riding a bicycle 100 miles?
That’s what three Pratt residents opted to do this past Veteran’s Day weekend.
Mike Neifert, senior pastor of Pratt Friends Church, originally had planned to run 100 miles in 24 hours as part of Haviland’s fundraising Run for Missions event. He and his running partner, Adam, set out from Wichita before daybreak last Friday morning. Mike hoofed it 50 miles before persistent pain in his foot, coupled with kidney issues, forced an early end to his run. Adam finished the run in Haviland not long after sunrise on Saturday morning. Prior to his run, Mike had extensively trained. In fact, if you saw a man in a bright orange jacket--with lights attached to each hand when it was dark outside—that was Mike.
Mike concluded his blog (see http://openmikey.blogspot.com/2012/11/half-done.html?spref=fb for the full description) with this perspective: “Though I'm disappointed that I didn't reach my goal by completing this 100-miler, I am not discouraged. I did what I could for a cause I care deeply about. Young men and women called to serve God as missionaries will be helped by the scholarship fund that Adam and I and all our friends ran to support. That matters more than whether I ran 100 miles or not. Way more!”
The day after Veteran’s Day, my friend Dan McAnarney and I ventured off on our own 100 mile adventure, with the aid of two wheels and pedals. We christened our journey the 100 Miles of Freedom Ride with a nod to our nation’s veterans. Our ride commenced around 9:45 a.m. at a chilly 34 degrees Fahrenheit, eventually reaching midday high somewhere between 50 to 55 degrees.
Monday was a fairly idyllic day for a bicycle ride, even with the prevailing west-northwest winds of 5-15 mph. We headed west of Pratt toward Byers. From there, our route zigzagged northwest toward Macksville. South of Macksville, we observed the wide, winding path of downed timber left by last April’s day of tornados (at least that’s what we speculated). After a convenience store break in Macksville, we pointed our steeds north toward Pawnee County, reaching our furthest distance from Pratt, approximately 42 miles at the intersection of E Road and 40th Avenue.
The rest of the ride, at least until we reached Stafford, was mostly a breeze, with a northwest wind pushing us toward St. John, where we refueled with Mexican food from Pueblo Nuevo. From there, we took the back road to Stafford, perhaps the prettiest portion of the ride with its rolling hills and timber. This was also where we sighted our one and deer.
Stafford presented a photo opportunity, as my friend Michael Hathaway, Curator at the Stafford County Historical and Genealogical Society, graciously snapped our only group picture. From there we pedaled south out of Stafford for about four miles before turning west onto new pavement (new to us, that is), which eventually became three miles of dirt before reconnecting with US Highway 281. Not far into this leg of the journey, a large, friendly dog, possibly a Great Dane, from a local farm house joined us. The dog easily kept up with us for about six mile before we were able to drop him on pavement.
We arrived home around sunset with taillights flashing and headlights beaming.
All in all, our 100 Miles of Freedom trek proved a good way to commemorate Veteran’s Day. We were both simply thankful for the ability to pedal our bicycles that far in one day, even if it meant some sore muscles at the end of the ride.